On the lip of the valley

I know the words will eventually arrive. They have to.

There are too many monkeys bouncing around my barrel of a brain and too many typewriters and megaphones strewn at their feet amid banana peels and droppings. Just by sheer physics has all their leaping led to decent key mashes every so often, but the megaphone situation is more complicated.

The monkeys need to recognize what their opposable thumbs can do, wrap them in just the right place, find the right end of the device for vocalizing, learn to speak English, and put the right words in the right order. Of the last two tasks for the monkeys, I don’t know which is more complicated. About thirty years after completing the first charge, I’m still failing at the second. Far removed from their natural chaos, what I have is a troop of monkeys so proficient in English and megaphone usage but incapable of stringing together the thoughts I hired them to express in the first place.

People say pigs are smart.

Maybe pigs next time?

The pigs can root for the right words, find and store them, and remember where they are. Can you imagine the sentences the herd would assemble? Emotions and reason would emerge from the slop thoughtful, ordered and complete. On their best days, the pigs would construct houses of spoken, unshakable brick, shaming the monkey years when my words picked each other for nits and occasionally wore tiny hats. I have no idea how the pigs would operate the megaphones, but they’d figure out something, I’m sure.

I like animal solutions because then I’m not as culpable.

What I actually picture whenever I finish speaking out loud, like I had to do for a little thing today, involves neither monkeys nor pigs. Nor chickens nor hippos nor talking crickets like the one who imprinted certain children with equally strong, contradictory desires to live in Times Square and to quiet it.

Instead, I imagine standing on the lip of a great valley. An unknown city is expansive at its center, and farmland wraps a broad green belt before the hills begin. The entire scene is mute from a distance. But I know better. I make trudging first steps down the slope and dream of sliding, tumbling, falling mid-hurtle into open arms where the conversation goes on forever.